It’s not all the sweet stuff you may think it is. In that demure-looking bottle of pink wine just may be a dry little number with enough acidity to be just what you are looking for. The notion of pink wine may have been tainted by popular sweet wines in that hue that were all the rage in the 1970s and beyond. These wines are not representative of the range available that includes delicious dry options, especially from abroad.
Dry rosé wines are not only refreshing; they also pair with a great range of food, from salads and seafood to steak and ham. And they are perfect for spring and summer. Plus, the vast majority of rosé wines offer a very good value for the money.
White Zinfandel accounts for the majority of blush wine consumed in the United States, according to the Wine Institute, the public policy advocacy association of California wineries. So while this is a popular sipper, those interested in a drier style of wine may not immediately think pink.
So has rosé been underrated? “Not underrated, but definitely misunderstood,” says Karen MacNeil, chair of the wine department at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, and author of The Wine Bible. “Unfortunately, rose suffered from a negative ‘legacy of sweet pink wines’ from Lancers and Mateus to Strawberry Hill to Pink Riunite to White Zinfandel. Dry rosé made in the European manner is of course, a whole different wine,” she notes.
In recent years, the scope of pink wine offerings has changed. “There are now rosés from virtually every country – including our own. available, and those rosés are now made from a range of grape varieties,” says MacNeil.
Coming up Rosé
There aren’t pin grapes, so what goes in to making rosé? Rosé wines are typically made with red grapes, but the skins are removed from the mix after the grapes are crushed, usually within two to three days. Since there is only brief contact with the skin, the wine takes on a light pinkish color ranging from very pale, to pale pink, apricot, salmon or even light red. Rosés then lack the tannins of red wine, which are also contributed by the skins. They’re typically light bodied and have a hint of sweetness, though many are crisp and dry.
A Friend with Food
Dry rosés are probably the most versatile food wine around. Perhaps since they are in “in the middle” between red and white, they are less intense than a big tannic red, but more depth than a light white. They complement chicken, turkey, sausage, hamburgers, barbecue and more. They make great partners with salads, especially those featuring meat, seafood, or citrus fruit. It’s the wine of choice in the south of France to pair with the classic Nicoise salad of tuna, hard-boiled egg, green beans, olives, and anchovies. Pink fish, such as salmon and steelhead trout, and meatier varieties such as tuna, red snapper, swordfish, and marlin find a friend in rosé. So too do spicy bouillabaisse and garlicky grilled shrimp.
“For reasons not fully understood by chefs or wine professionals, rosés are fantastic with anything that has a lot of garlic,” says MacNeil. “In summer, they are also great with a platter of grilled vegetables, as well as salads that have meat and vegetables in them, like chicken Caesar.”
Excerpted from DRINKS Magazine, by Mary Subialka. DRINKS Magazine is available for free at Surdyk’s.